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SCOTUS Blocks Biden's Student Loan Forgiveness Program and Limits LGBTQ Protections; Trump Investigation Continues; Secret Report on Sexual Assault at Coast Guard Academy Kept Hidden for Years. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired June 30, 2023 - 23:00   ET



CHRIS WALLACE, CNN HOST: Thank you for watching. You can catch my full interviews with John Williams as well as Senator Cory Booker and Harrison Ford any time you want on Max. We'll be back here on CNN after the July 4th holiday. Join us then to find out who's talking next.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Welcome to "CNN Tonight." It has been a week of monumental decisions from the Supreme Court, decisions that will affect millions of Americans. Today, the conservative majority blocked President Biden's student loan forgiveness program. The president fired back, saying the court -- quote -- "misinterpreted the Constitution" and vowed to put forward another plan to help student borrowers. What will that look like? We're going to ask former education secretary Arne Duncan.

Also, today, the justices ruled in favor of a Christian web designer who refused to create websites for same-sex weddings. But there's a twist that make many think this case might have been manufactured and that no gay couple asked for a website. Now supporters of LGBTQ rights fear the court may go even further.

Plus, it was a big week in the various Trump investigations. Remember back on Monday when CNN obtained the audiotape of former President Trump talking about those classified secret documents that he held on to? Well, the week ends with members of Trump's inner circle talking to investigators. We'll get the latest on where everything stands tonight.

Let's begin with the Supreme Court on LGBTQ rights and President Biden's student loan forgiveness program. Here's what the president said today when asked if he had given students false hope.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I didn't give any false hope. What I did, I thought, was appropriate, and was able to be done and would get done. I didn't give borrowers false hope, but the Republicans snatched away the hope that they were given.


CAMEROTA: Okay. Here to discuss, we have CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein, civil rights attorney Areva Martin, and presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. Great to have all of you on this beginning of a holiday weekend. So, Ron, give us the big picture here. How will today's rulings affect all of our lives?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, these rulings are enormously significant in their own terms and they are enormously significant in the broader pattern that they reveal. I think, you know, what we have seen from this six-member Republican- appointed court majority consistently is that they are ruling to impose the values, priorities, and even grievances of the coalition that nominated and confirmed them.

And they were nominated by Republican presidents and confirmed almost entirely by Republican senators who represent the parts of the country least touched by all of the demographic and cultural changes remaking American life in the 21st century.

And whether it was the affirmative action ruling yesterday or the LGBTQ ruling today or the student loan decision or affirmative action last year or previous and coming rulings on climate, they are imposing the priorities of that coalition which in many cases collide not only with the preferences but the intrinsic identity of the younger generations that are much more diverse, much more secular, and much more likely to identify as LGBTQ.

So, in all of these ways, Alisyn, the big picture is that in many respects, the America of 1950 is seeking to write the legal rules for the America of 2050 and that is a tourniquet that is just getting tighter and something is going to give sooner or later if Gen Z continues to see its values and priorities rejected by this -- by this court that reflects an earlier political majority and at in many ways an earlier America.

CAMEROTA: Areva, let's start with the case of the Christian web designer who refused to create websites for same-sex weddings because of her religious beliefs. So, Justice Sotomayor warned in the dissent that this could lead to other kinds of discrimination.

She said, the decision threatens to balkanize the market and to allow the exclusion of other groups from many services. A website designer could equally refuse to create a wedding website for an interracial couple, for example."

Is that how you see it?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, absolutely, and I agree with Ron, the Supreme Court in the course of 24 hours has done more to unravel and undermine basic rights than any court in our history. This case is particularly concerning to me as a civil rights lawyer.

As an African American woman, I think of all of the ways in which businesses could discriminate against other individuals who have other identities, not just who identify with the LGBTQ community, African Americans, Latinos and others.

The case -- the decision by this court undermines those laws that prevent discrimination in public accommodations. So, Colorado and other states around this country have said you cannot discriminate against individuals on the basis of their race, their religious beliefs or their sexual identity, and this case allows this web designer to do just that.


It opens the door for other businesses to exclude individuals based on their beliefs and undermines, as I said, those laws which protect individuals who are members of a protected class.

CAMEROTA: Doug, you're our historian here. Has this year with all of these murky decisions from affirmative action, Roe vs. Wade, LGBTQ, you know, expanded gun rights, the environmental protections, has this been a year like no other?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Yeah. I mean, you're seeing what -- the rollback of the Lyndon Johnson great society and even Richard Nixon era politics. You know, I once got to edit Ronald Reagan's diary. In all the entries, he kept them every day as president except when he was shot, the one that jumped at me is Reagan said, I'm not trying to destroy the new deal, I voted for FDR four times, I want to unravel and unroll the great society.

And starting in 1982, during the Reagan years, you had the birth of the federalist society which was created by Harvard and Yale lawyers wanting these kinds of outcomes. They wanted to do away with the EPA. They wanted to do away with affirmative action. They wanted to stop the women's right movement. They wanted to undo Roe v. Wade. The list is long and it has been a long march of decades to get to this point.

The people most celebrating toning are groups like the federal society or the Cato Institute or anti-government groups. Republican politicians have a tougher time because they got to be reelected. And as we pointed out, many Gen Z people are going to be angry. You're going to have LGBTQ people angry, minorities in America for discrimination at universities and colleges.

So, there will probably be a backlash to this conservative act of radicalism that's really an attempt to destroy those legacies from the '60s and '70s.

CAMEROTA: Hmm. Areva, let's talk about Biden's student loan plan. Okay? So, the president said that his authority to do that a year ago came under the 2003 HEROES Act. Well, then, today, Chief Justice Roberts wrote in the majority opinion he disagreed, and he said the secretary of education does not have that authority. So, legally speaking, was it a stretch for President Biden to claim that he could do that?

MARTIN: Well, you know what's interesting, Alisyn? Biden used some of the same language that we saw Donald Trump used as Donald Trump was enacting the Payroll Protection Act during COVID. So, Biden used that HEROES Act to modify it to avoid student loan debt up to a certain amount.

And what I liked about what Biden said is that this fight is not over. He is looking now to the Higher Education Act to use it as a way to accomplish what he wasn't able to accomplish today.

Under Donald Trump, over $700 million -- $700 billion, I should say, was forgiven for large corporations who used that Payroll Protection Act. This was $400 billion for students. So, somehow, the Supreme Court allowed billionaires and major corporations to benefit from having their debt wiped out, but the hypocrisy of not allowing the student loan debt to be eliminated or to be reduced in the way that Joe Biden tried to. This controversial major question doctrine act that is relied upon, you know, is questionable, and I think Joe Biden is right, the court got it wrong.

CAMEROTA: Hmm. We're going to get to that new plan in just a moment. But Ron, where does it go from here? Now what?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think on a narrow issue of, you know, the specific issue of the student debt, the Biden administration is going to try to follow this -- develop this fallback plan which some in the Democratic Party wanted from the beginning, from the Higher Education Act.

But really, the larger question is where the conflict goes between a court that reflects an earlier political era and a changing America. I think, Alisyn, we have been here a few times before. In the 1850s, seven of the nine Supreme Court justices have been appointed by pro- slavery southern Democratic presidents, and they in the Dred Scott decision essentially ruled against the agenda of the emerging majority, which is the Republican Party.

As Doug can tell you, they ruled that the central plank in the republican agenda preventing the spread of slavery to the territories was unconstitutional. We saw it again in the 1930s when we had a court, seven of the nine members appointed by Republicans in the early part of the 20th century, and they ruled to block FDR's agenda systemically just as the new deal coalition was becoming the majority coalition in the country.

It's not quite as partisan necessarily now but there's no question that the majority of Americans are now who have been born since 1980. And the millennial generation, Gen Z, and whatever are calling after them, maybe Gen Alpha, they are more diverse, they are more secular, they are more likely to be LGBTQ.


And they are watching a court appointed by an earlier political majority basically saying no to them over and over again on a broad range of issues as we've been discussing. And the question is, how long -- this majority could last another 10 years and you just wonder how long you can up the pressure in this way.

Real quick, for example, a majority of high school graduates are now kids of color for the first time in American history. That happened last year. The court ends affirmative action precisely at that moment when whites still claim 60% of the seats, incoming seats at the most elite institutions. How long can this majority rule in a way that reflects its coalition against the interests of the rising coalition? It is numerically becoming a majority in the country.

CAMEROTA: Doug, do you have some thoughts on that because if it is going to go on another 10 years, as Ron just said, it sounds like the minority on the Supreme Court is going to be very frustrated based upon the kind of biting dissents that they've been writing that our legal experts say are quite unusual?

BRINKLEY: Absolutely. I mean, it reminds us just how important that 2016 election was when Hillary Clinton lost. And when Ruth Bader Ginsburg left the court, there wasn't a liberal to fill that spot. Merrick Garland didn't get the Supreme Court nomination. Donald Trump got three very conservative justices into that Supreme Court.

He was a double-impeached president, one whose -- getting multiple indictments and may go to jail. But these three Republican Supreme Court justices, as Ron said, are here for the next decade and it means it's going to be an era of the Supreme Court really being run by the American political right.

CAMEROTA: Friends, thank you very much. Really great to get all of your perspectives this evening.

I want to turn now to former secretary of education, Arne Duncan. Secretary Duncan, thanks so much for being here. As you just heard us talking, President Biden today explained that he has a new plan to help students who now feel left in the lurch. Here's what he said about that.


BIDEN: We are creating a temporary 12-month -- what we're calling on- ramp repayment program. Now, this is not the same as the student loan pause. If you miss payments, this on-ramp temporarily remove the threat of default or having your credit harmed.


CAMEROTA: Okay. So, help us understand how this will work.

ARNE DUNCAN, FORMER SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: Well, it's not easy. And President Biden is a fighter. He'll leave no stone unturned. He will look at his authority under the Higher Education Act. President has been really clear that the Supreme Court delivered two separate gut punches to the American public this week and it's not something you easily recover from.

CAMEROTA: And you are -- which two are you referring to?

DUNCAN: Both the affirmative action ruling and repealing or taking away his right to forgive a portion of debt for 40 million plus Americans across the country who are still trying to recover from the effects of the pandemic.

CAMEROTA: So, let's start there. Let's talk about the student debt right now because President Biden, when he announced that he wanted to do this student loan relief, even some high-profile Democrats like Nancy Pelosi suggested that he did not have the power to do it. So, was it a mistake doing it through the HEROES Act, the way he did it?

DUNCAN: I don't think it was a mistake. When the country is struggling as badly as it was and continues to, you have to do everything you can. This is not a normal Supreme Court. This is a very unusual Supreme Court.

And look at things like the wealth gap in our nation with whites having six, seven, eight, nine times as much money as African Americans. Because African Americans have less money, they have to borrow more to go to college. So, going to college can actually exacerbate that wealth gap.

We are also facing a teacher crisis. As you know, many folks want to go into teaching. But because it's not a lucrative profession, they need that loan relief. At time we need more teachers more than ever, this is going to have a chilling effect on folks who want to enter that profession. So, no one is winning here. Our nation is losing right now, Alisyn, unfortunately.

CAMEROTA: The dollar signs are pretty staggering. Students in this country have more than $1.6 trillion in debt. The average cost of college increased 169% from 1980 to 2020. So, I mean, obviously, just relieving $10,000 or $20,000 for a student is not going to fundamentally change all that. Is there a different solution here to curb the soaring cost of college?

DUNCAN: It's a great question. There is no one answer. Again, this is so critically important to give people some relief. Ninety percent of the 40 million plus who would have benefited are making less than $75,000 a year. These are not wealthy folks. They're working hard. Many are living paycheck to paycheck.

The bigger picture, we have to continue to challenge universities to keep their costs down. As you know, the cost of higher education is going up faster than the rate of inflation.


We need to continue to invest and expand opportunity. Again, I worry desperately about our universities becoming less diverse, not more now. So, a lot of challenges got to move on multiple fronts and President Biden will do everything he can. But the Supreme Court did something that I think does our country a great disservice this week. It's very, very disappointing.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about affirmative action now. You yesterday called it a terrible day for our nation. What will this decision mean for students?

DUNCAN: Well, obviously, we don't know yet. But I'll just say, it's just so -- for lack of a better word -- hypocritical. If you look at the Ivy League institutions, Harvard, Yale, Brown across the board, most have 6%, 7% African Americans. Not a big number.

If you look at what's the real affirmative action at those universities, it's the wealthy. It's those related to donors and legacy students. Those affirmative action for the elite for the wealthy, for the privileged and primarily white, that's been strong forever.

If you look at some of the public universities in the southern states, University of Alabama, University of Mississippi, wherever might be, University of Tennessee, if you look at the black populations of those states, usually 30%, 40%. If you look at Black enrollment in those black universities, it is 10%, 11%, 12%, 13%.

So, the real disparity and real affirmative action is not for a very small percent of Black students. It is for the privileged and for the wealthy. So, if they are going to try and attack or challenge, that is where it should happen. Unfortunately, they chose to attack the vulnerable and not the privileged.

CAMEROTA: Arne Duncan, thanks so much for being with us on this Friday night. Really appreciate your perspective.

DUNCAN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Next, a Colorado web designer told the Supreme Court that a man wanted her to use her services for his same-sex wedding. But that man says he never contacted that web designer and that he's not gay and not planning a wedding because he has been married to his wife for 15 years. So, was the Supreme Court case concocted? That's next.




CAMEROTA: The Supreme Court ruling in favor of a Christian web designer who refused to create a website for a gay man celebrating his same-sex marriage. But there's a twist in this case. When CNN reached the man named in the court documents, he said this incident never happened. He is not gay. He has been married to his wife for 15 years. He called this case concocted.

Joining me now, CNN political analyst Natasha Alford, Republican strategist Jason Osborne, CNN senior political commentator Scott Jennings, and Jay Michaelson who was a law clerk for Merrick Garland. Guys, thanks so much for being with me tonight.

Jay, I want to start with you. I want to hear your thoughts, of course, on the significance of this decision but also the fact that the case might have been manufactured. In other words, the web designer's values were not challenged. Does that change anything?

JAY MICHAELSON, RABBI, WRITER FOR ROLLING STONE, LAW CLERK FOR MERRICK GARLAND: Unfortunately, it changes nothing. This really is unprecedented. I've never seen a case of really fraud or misrepresentation be disclosed this late in the process. The opinions were surely already printed, you know, on paper by the time, you know, this revelation came to light.

In a sense, all of these cases are concocted. You know, this is the alliance defending freedom and right-wing activist organizations finding the right plaintiff. And, you know, they already failed with this case once before because what was asked for was kind of -- there wasn't really case or a controversy.

Ostensibly, the web designer, really alliance defending freedom, said she was worried about being sued or enforcement action coming against her. That's not how the judiciary system is meant to work. There has to be an active case or controversy. So, this one was concocted. But, you know, I'm not surprised that the conservative majority in this court, you know, went to the merits right away.

CAMEROTA: Scott, what about Justice Sotomayor's argument, that this could lead various business owners to say that they're not comfortable and should not be compelled to serve certain groups?

She said, I'll read it to you, the decision threatens to balkanize the market and to allow the exclusion of other groups from many services. A and website designer could equally refuse to create a wedding website for an interracial couple, for example.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think Justice Gorsuch and his comments in the case thoroughly demolished the dissents here. This is a very narrow case about compelled speech. Can the government compel you to engage in speech that violates your personal beliefs and all the way up through the case?

I don't know if it was concocted or not but all the way up through the court, everybody agreed this was a pure speech issue, even at the circuit level. So, I really think it's a reach, it's a political statement, and it is a political reach to say that.

I understand why you would make that argument if you are on the left because you want to make hay out of it, but I think the case was narrower than that and at its core was whether government can compel you to engage in speech that you don't want to engage in. So, free speech issue.

MICHAELSON: Can I correct the factual record on that? Everybody stipulated that this was expression, but not that it was only expression. That's actually a crucial difference. I know -- I think we agree about this fact. It's kind of a hybrid of a free speech case and a public accommodations case.

The issue is when a same-sex couple, if I and my husband went to this web designer, we couldn't obtain the same services that a straight couple could obtain, that is -- it does implicate free speech. That's absolutely true. And it is strange actually, by the way, that I think the more conservative framing of the case actually favors the LGBTQ side. There's a lot of people saying the sky is falling and this gives everybody a license to discriminate. And when we say that, that creates that social reality. People feel that they do have the license to discriminate.

I actually prefer Justice Gorsuch's framing, but this isn't about compelling a private person to speak. This is a business entering a marketplace and offering services to some but not to all.

CAMEROTA: Natasha, your thoughts?

NATASHA ALFORD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I remember being in the field reporting in 2015 when the news broke that same-sex marriage had been legalized, and it was such a monumental moment.


But I also knew that that wasn't the end of it, right, that there would be attempts to undermine that ruling. We know from watching the civil rights movement play out that even after Brown versus the Board of Education, even after schools were ordered to desegregate, there were always efforts to find a way around the law.

And so, I'm not surprised that someone went out of their way, ironically someone who is Christian representing a faith that is about love, to actively go out of their way to show how they would not serve somebody.

It's just a reflection of the time. There are 491 anti-LGBTQ laws, bills in the U.S. up right now, according to the ACLU. And so, it's a reflection of the time that we are in.

CAMEROTA: Jason, do you see Sotomayor's argument of the slippery -- basically the slippery slope argument, that this could allow for other businesses to refuse to create something for other people?

JASON OSBORNE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I agree with Scott and his points on this, but I also see that side of it and the fact that I have a problem with how this case came about. I don't like the fact that there was not an actual injured party in this and that the case was able to go that far. But that being said, I'm not an attorney, so I can't really speak to that aspect of it.

But I do feel like this is going to lead to more people trying to do the same thing again. And to Sotomayor's point that, you know, somebody with an interracial couple will try that, I don't think it will work.

Again, to Scott's point, where it was pretty narrowly defined at least in my view and my reading of it, it does not mean that this website designer can discriminate against anybody in the LGBTQ community or anybody else on their services. It was very singular in the sense that it dealt with weddings, wedding services, and writing words on the website that she didn't mentally agree with.

CAMEROTA: Jay, Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in the 2015 landmark gay marriage case, was on CNN tonight expressing his anger and disappointment and fear about what's next.


JIM OBERGEFELL, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I absolutely believe any rights the LGBTQ+ community enjoy in this country are at risk. You know, we have this court now saying that one person's religious beliefs or their interpretation of their particular religious book trumps everything else.

Opponents of LGBTQ+ equality, they are going to use this in every way that they can to continue coming after the queer community. It's using religion as a tool of hate. So, yes, I am very worried about the LGBTQ+ community and our rights and our ability to live our life in this nation.


CAMEROTA: Jay, it sounds like you're not quite at that level of panic. Is he -- is he wrong to have those feelings tonight?

MICHAELSON: No, I think he's certainly not wrong especially when it comes to transgender populations. I do think that there is a tactical decision that many in the LGBTQ community made. I worked as a professional activist for 10 years. So, this is my community to kind of go to -- to immediately go to the slippery slope.

And, you know, unlikely my Republican colleagues on this panel, I don't want to let the court off the hook. I think this case was wrongly decided, and I think it is extremely problematic. But I also not necessarily on the team of saying, you know, this means that the sky is falling.

As you know, Alisyn, from many times when I've been on the show, I think the sky is falling on the trans population and the war on trans existence is horrifying in this country. So, when that is the case, I don't hesitate to say it.

But this is a case about speech. This is actually not -- Jim Obergefell is a hero of mine. Not to contradict him, but this was not a religion case, this was a free speech case. I think it would behoove us, those of us who care about equality, to say -- to acknowledge that this only extends to cases where speech is at issue.

Not that it's a pure free speech case, but does not allow a pizzeria or restaurant or a hotel or something to say, no, I get to not serve gay customers. I don't think that that framing helps the cause of equality.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about the student loan debt that was basically nullified. Scott, your thoughts on that one.

JENNINGS: Well, I mean, everything I know about this, I learned from Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi who said on our network and other networks that they didn't think they could do it, that it was unconstitutional to do it. Then, Biden did it anyway, and then the court found that he was right in the first place. And so, my advice to him -- by the way, I'm actually sympathetic to student debt -- these loan holders because I think some may have been duped into bad debt, I think terms they didn't understand and I understand the crushing nature of it. He needs to pass a law. I mean, that's the way this is solved, to go to Congress and try to pass a law.


I actually believe there could be political will to do something about it in the way that the court has prescribed here, which is just pass a law and you can do (INAUDIBLE). I think that's where he ran into trouble. I think the political issue is pretty clear. There are folks who are concerned about it and there are people that are hurting. But the method to cure it is in Congress, not in these unconstitutional executive orders.

CAMEROTA: Natasha, your thoughts?

ALFORD: Speaking plainly just -- there are so many people who watch every day the way that our government works or it doesn't work. And this was a beacon of hope. It was an opportunity for people to feel like finally, you know, something is here for me in my attempt to improve my life, to change my circumstances coming from a disadvantage.

Many of these loans were so small, right, under $10,000, but they were prohibitive for people who were, you know, trying to make a way and trying to make a living. And so, that hope was snatched away. I think that there are political implications for this. In the election, people will be watching to see what President Biden does about this.

The black community, in particular, NAACP president, said, you know, there is a risk of us growing disillusioned, right, because of so many big promises that were made. And for minorities in particular, student loan debt is different, right? It is that difference between being able to get a home or make investments in yourself.

Many of these students are coming into college at a disadvantage. Many don't even get to go into the field that they studied because they have to take a job right away just to pay those bills. African Americans carry $25,000 more debt on average than their white counterparts and it just gets worse as time goes on.

So, this is an issue of racial justice for many, and there's a lot on the line in terms of what happens next.

CAMEROTA: Friends, thank you very much. Really great to get all of your perspectives on this important night.

Okay, there is also big developments this week in multiple investigations into former President Trump's actions. Up next, legal analyst Joey Jackson is going to bring us up to speed.




CAMEROTA: It has been a big week in the ongoing investigations into Donald Trump. On Monday, CNN obtained that audiotape of Trump discussing secret classified documents with people who do not have security clearances.

We also learned the special counsel's investigators have questioned one of Trump's top campaign aides about a classified map that he allegedly showed her.

And then there's Special Counsel Jack Smith's investigation into Trump's election interference. We've learned that investigators spoke with Rudy Giuliani and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

And now, former Trump campaign official Mike Roman is cooperating with investigators.

Here tonight on all of this is CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson. Joey, thanks so much for being here tonight. Of everything that's happened this week, I mean, it's hard to remember that it was just Monday when we heard that audiotape that CNN obtained of President Trump talking about the classified secret documents. What's the biggest problem of this week for Donald Trump?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think there are many, Alisyn. It's very difficult to pinpoint one in particular. I know that he certainly had a good justification, maybe not so good in many eyes, as to the issue of whether or not that tape that was released actually were classified documents or they were the ruffling of many newspapers having nothing at all to do with any classified documents. So, I think that was certainly significant.

What else was significant, that, of course, relating to the 37-count indictment in which obviously that audio was obtained. And then, of course, you look to the issue of Mr. Raffensperger on the Georgia front. We know in Georgia, he's being, that is Mr. Trump, looked at by not only the state.

We know the district attorney is assessing whether or not there was election interference or any crimes committed in his phone call to the secretary of state as we look at the many investigations, but that, of course, he is expected, that is the district attorney in Georgia, at the state level to give some indication of whether she's pressing forward against Mr. Trump in September.

And then we know, of course, the feds, Mr. Smith, right, that's the special counsel, invited Mr. Raffensperger to speak to him with respect to the federal investigation.

So, there's just a whirlwind of events that are occurring. How this ultimately ends is going to be in a trial. I think certainly that the federal trial relating to the federal indictment will go before the New York City trial which we have not yet talked about, and that's in Manhattan for next year and that, of course, deals with the hush money payments.

So, I know it's a whirlwind of activity. Very difficult to pinpoint one that has precedence over the other. All are significant and all represent significant trouble for the former president.

CAMEROTA: Well, Donald Trump talked about this at a campaign event tonight. Here he is.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It turns out, with me, I did nothing wrong. They go after people that did nothing wrong. They use disinformation and everything else. But if anybody else was standing up here or the front-runner, you know, if I was in third place, fourth place or wasn't running, there wouldn't be anything. They would have said he's one of the most honest presidents we've ever had.

They got me on nothing. Got me on nothing. And all of the things that they do have, it's like the pundits are saying, wow, that's nothing.



CAMEROTA: Joey, here is an interesting wrinkle. We have reporting that Donald Trump is actually using some campaign contributions. So, his supporters are contributing what they think is money to his campaign but he's using it for his legal fees. Is that okay?

JACKSON: I mean, listen, you know, in the event that you have political contributions, you can use them for purposes that you think are furthering the interests of your campaign. Certainly, furthering the interests of your campaign would be not ending up in jail and avoiding any type of criminality against you.

So, whether or not it's acceptable to his supporters, I think they'll support him nonetheless. Whether he should do it ethically, whether it's the responsible thing to do, there is a separate question of whether it's legally important to do.

I think it's important to also note, Alisyn, as we look at what you say on the campaign trail, generally, attorneys like me cringe when clients have anything to say regarding a case that is out there against them.


JACKSON: But when running for president, it's very difficult not to say anything about that because inquiring minds, the public, certainly want to know. And so, you know, it's the narrative, it's a witch-hunt and everything else.

But I think when you get into the nitty-gritty and details, I thought the 37-count indictment was pretty clear and specific with regard to what he did with regard to the classified documents, where they were kept --


JACKSON: -- efforts by the government to get them back. There's just a lot going on that might, in fact, contradict notions of it being a witch-hunt, nothing to see here, et cetera. But, look, you know, the bottom line is people can be charged. They could even be indicted. It's a matter of what a jury determines at the time of trial as to guilt and innocence that really matters.


JACKSON: And he deserves like everyone else his day in court.

CAMEROTA: All right. Joey, have a great fourth of July weekend. Thanks so much for being here.

JACKSON: Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: All right. Up next, a CNN exclusive. A report into sexual assault of the Coast Guard Academy that was kept secret until CNN started asking questions.




CAMEROTA: Tonight, a CNN exclusive about a damning report into sexual assault at the Coast Guard Academy that Coast Guard leaders kept secret for nearly four years. The Coast Guard only came clean and told members of Congress about it after CNN started asking questions. Here's chief investigative correspondent Pamela Brown.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The multiyear investigation was called "Operation Fouled Anchor" and uncovered a history of rapes and assaults at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy that were ignored or even covered up by high-ranking officials.

But Coast Guard officials have kept the investigation secret since 2019 and never released the report, only approaching Congress this month after CNN asked about it. During the investigation, the Coast Guard found evidence of dozens of cases of sexual assault, even though they only looked into a specific time frame, from the late '80s to 2006, overlooking many years when other assaults had been reported.

A report on the investigation found suspected attackers were not criminally investigated. Punishments, if they happened, were sometimes as minor as extra homework. Victims sometimes faced punishment for fraternization or lewd acts.

Many suspects went on to have successful military careers while victims were sometimes kicked out of the academy. For those who stayed, it could be just as difficult.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): I was sexually assaulted three times. It was completely toxic and devastating to my sense of self and left lifelong damages to my physical, mental health.

BROWN (voice-over): This young woman is a recent cadet. She graduated in 2022 and says the Coast Guard culture has not changed.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): The Coast Guard academy employs reinforces and cultivates a system that thrives on the trauma and pain of women and minorities. It's designed for their failure.

BROWN (voice-over): The Coast Guard secret investigation revealed that female cadets describe survival tactics they had to use while at the academy. They would rig their doors to make it hard to get in, prop rifles against the door or utilize a trash can, and that cadets were hesitant to report for a fear that as female cadets, they wouldn't be taken seriously. One woman described a fraternity of male cadets that hated women and didn't think women should be in the Coast Guard.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): You realize that if you say something, you are blacklisted because now you're the girl who cried wolf.

BROWN (on camera): Even if it really happened?

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Even if it really happened.

BROWN (on camera): It sounds like, from what you've described, the survivors are the ones who are punished and those accused of sexual assault go on to thrive?

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Exactly. When cadets get in trouble, there is this intense shame, this group shaming.

BROWN (voice-over): The Coast Guard did investigate one of this victim's assaults but told her they didn't find enough evidence.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): I was 17. I needed my mom. I needed somebody to stand up for me in those moments and it just -- it broke me.

BROWN (voice-over): Democratic senators Maria Cantwell and Tammy Baldwin sent a letter Friday to the head of the Coast Guard that called the information -- quote -- "disturbing and demanded answers." They committed to pursuing full accountability for perpetrators and investing a meaningful support for survivors.


CAMEROTA: And Pam Brown joins me now. So, Pam, what does the Coast Guard say about all this?


BROWN: Well, Alisyn, after CNN's report was first published this morning, the Coast Guard sent us a statement directly apologizing about all these mistakes made in the "Fouled Anchor" investigation, saying that the Coast Guard fully recognizes that, by not having taken appropriate action at the time of the sexual assaults, the Coast Guard may have further traumatized the victims, delayed access to their care and recovery, and prevented some cases from being referred to the military justice system for appropriate accountability. The Coast Guard owns this failure and apologizes to each of the victims and their loved ones.

And I will tell you, Alisyn, that my colleagues here on the investigative unit are going stay on this story. Melanie Hicken, Blake Ellis, Audrey Ash, several others, we will, of course, stay on this as it unfolds.

CAMEROTA: That is quite an apology there. And meanwhile, Pam, some members of Congress are now weighing in, including Senator Ted Cruz. What is he saying?

BROWN: Yeah, that's right. This has caught the attention of senators, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

You have Democratic senators speaking out about this and you have the ranking chairman, Republican Ted Cruz of the committee that was briefed by the Coast Guard, that has oversight over the Coast Guard, speaking out, tweeting our story here, our CNN story, saying that he finds these reports deeply disturbing. He says this is an issue he has been fighting about on a bipartisan level for the last decade.

Clearly, this is having an impact and causing quite the ripple effect on Capitol Hill. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Great investigative reporting. Pam Brown, thank you so much for sharing that.

BROWN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: And we'll be right back.




CAMEROTA: From COVID-19 to the murder of George Floyd and the presidential election, 2020 was a year that changed everything. Go inside those memorable 12 months on a new episode of the CNN Original Series "The 2010s." Here's a preview.


JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: People came out to join a movement that had now been in place since at least 2012, Black Lives Matter. And in cities across the country, not just big cities, smaller towns, it was one of the biggest mobilizations that we had seen in a long time, if not ever, in support of criminal justice reform.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You had rallies that were all white in states that were almost all white saying "black lives matter." This was a massive breakthrough.

UNKNOWN: I want us to treat black lives as our own on a daily basis.

HASAN JEFFRIES, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY: This was the first time that we heard protests, particularly white protesters, talking about systemic racism as a problem.


CAMEROTA: Be sure to check out "The 2010s," Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.

Thanks so much for watching "CNN Tonight." Our coverage continues now.